Never in my life would I have imagined I’d be taking pictures of a septic tank. But here we are! Doug decided to take his do-it-yourselfer skills to the next level by installing a septic system for our new house. Estimated date of house completion is December 2023.
Boy it’s been quite the journey!
At first there were the measurements. I never knew you’d need to be so specific when dealing with, well, you know. But it does. You need precise locations to get the right flow (again, too much information) and location of trenches.
He used his BMS (“big measuring stick” in Laura language) to get the right elevations so we knew where the tank and pipes should go. We trudged to and fro across that property to get the locations just right. I helped by carrying the BMS, moving from spot to spot so he could take shots. No, there was no drinking involved, although if you watched me from a distance you’d think I was tipping a few. I staggered around the property for hours.
It was important to be accurate.
Doug: Ok, go stand right next to that clump of wood.
Me: Which clump?
Doug: The one I just showed you.
Me: Okay, I found it.
Doug: Now turn the rod (not stick) so the numbers are facing me. Move it to the right just a little bit.
Me: Is this better?
Doug: I mean lean it to the right. After that, walk in a straight line over to the next spot where I dug an X in the dirt.
Me: Where? There’s more than one “X” down here. (I could hear the sigh from yards away.)
Doug: Walk two yards to your right, then stop at that big log. Next you’re going to move west to the orange stake, then two feet south…
And so it went. He was very sweet to tell me how much he appreciated my help and how he couldn’t have done it without me.
But the next day he bought a laser level that would send a green light from the transmitter on a tripod to the receiver attached to the BMS. I was out of a job.
Back at the house, little baggies of soil appeared all over the kitchen, deck and dining room table. He weighed lumps of dirt for weeks.
Then he sifted. Did you know there are specially designed sieves to filter dirt? Yep, bigger lumps would remain on the larger sized screen, then the rest would fall to the next smaller size and so on. It was like watching a baker create a cake but without the frosting. In the meantime he measured the percentage of big stones and fine dirt to get a mix that met the standards. This would thrill the county inspectors, so accuracy was important.
You can imagine our dinner conversations.
Earlier he had removed the old septic tank. By hand! It was a big concrete box about the size of an elephant. He dug around it ’til he could get the tractor bucket underneath to lift it out and then hauled it away in pieces. (Yes, the tank was empty, in case you were wondering.)
After the hole for the new tank was dug, we drove up to Denver to get it. It looked like a big black plastic caterpillar 15’ long x 5’ wide and x 5’ high. I gave my husband a lot of credit for rigging a lift to move that tank to and from the trailer.
There was this one little mishap when he asked me to move the truck forward S L O W L Y so he could nudge the swinging tank into place. But I had missed that last part. The truck lurched (on its own, of course) and the thing swung around and almost knocked my long-suffering husband off the trailer — “head over tea kettle” as my gramma would say. (Oops, so sorry honey!) Then he repeated the whole process to drop the tank in the ground at the site. This time he kept me a safe distance away. For him and for me.
But the work wasn’t done yet.
While I was snuggled up at home in front of the fire (like the lazy girl I am), he was out ’til the late hours digging and laying pipe. But he said he liked it. Yes, really! He loved getting dressed up in his quilted overalls, heavy coat and beanie to go play in the dirt. I couldn’t talk him out of it.
“Honey, are you sure you want to go over there in the dark with these freezing temperatures? Can’t it wait until morning?”
“Nope. I’ll be fine. It’s really not that cold once I get working.”
He grunted, beat his chest, then lumbered out of the house towards the tractor and shouted “Hi-Yo Silver!” as he drove away.
All the men in my family were eager to help Doug dig. That’s what they said anyway. Secretly they wanted to run the excavator. You could almost hear them in their manliest moments growling like Tim “The Tool Man.”
Then it was finished. The time had finally come to extend an invitation for the County to come out and inspect. And they loved it! Well, maybe I’m being too generous. They probably grunted, checked our names off a list and drove away saying “We’ll catch ya next time!”